Self-Destructive Behaviors in PTSD

People with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be at heightened risk to engage in a number of different self-destructive behaviors. When you think about the symptoms of PTSD, this makes a lot of sense.


People with PTSD experience very strong, frequent and unpleasant emotions and thoughts, which may increase the likelihood that they will rely on unhealthy coping strategies, such as deliberate self-harm or substance abuse. Although these behaviors may reduce distress in the moment, they have many long-term negative consequences.

PTSD symptoms may start within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships.

The following self-destructive behaviors often go hand-in-hand with the symptoms of PTSD.


Deliberate Self-Harm

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Individuals with PTSD may be more likely to engage in self-injurious behaviors, such as cutting or burning oneself, as a way of managing intense and unpleasant emotions. Before you can stop engaging in self-injurious behavior, it is important to first learn why it might have developed. In this article, you can learn more about the connection between self-injury and PTSD.


Alcohol and Drug Abuse

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Various studies have looked at rates of alcohol and drug abuse among people with PTSD. These studies have found that individuals with PTSD are at greater risk of developing substance use problems than people without PTSD. This article reviews the rates of alcohol and drug abuse among people with PTSD, and also presents information on the reasons why people with PTSD may be at greater risk for substance use problems.



A young man sits in a window lighting a cigarette

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Approximately 45 million adults in the United States currently smoke, and it has been found that individuals with PTSD may be more likely to smoke than people without PTSD.


Unhealthy Eating Behaviors

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People with PTSD have been found to be at higher risk for eating disorders and unhealthy eating behaviors. For example, people with PTSD may restrict their food intake or may engage in binge eating. You can learn more about the different types of unhealthy eating behaviors found among people with PTSD, as well as eating disorders in general, in this article.



Suicide about to jump
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People who have experienced a traumatic event may be more likely to attempt suicide. Learn about the connection between trauma, PTSD, and suicide, as well as what you can do if you are having thoughts of ending your own life.


How to Help a Loved With Suicidal Thoughts

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When someone you care for is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it can be a very frightening experience. You may not know what to do to help your loved one. This article presents a number of steps you can take to keep your loved one safe if he or she is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

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